Wednesday, June 08, 2005

the pod and the perfume

She's come! She who never left us has come!

That water never left this stream at all.

She's the pod of musk and we're its perfume.

How could the scent be separate from the pod?

#927: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: late, early, right, left

Whenever Rumi refers to "she" I think of the great goddess who would have ruled in earlier times, before the patriarchy set in. She is depicted here as pure being, something that is always there but easily forgotten. She is also that which is contained in the container; and the container or source of humanity's spirit. I think She is Life and the material world. I think Rumi is saying they are not separate things from God or spirit or consciousness (whichever one we wish to associate with the perfume). If Rumi had expressed this more openly he would have been accused of heresy. I believe he was indeed accused of that but clearly wasn't executed for it. I wonder what he used as his defense.

Using "Rumi heresy" under Google, I've not found an immediate answer but I did come across a couple of interesting websites and views.

  • Allspirit provides some lines of Rumi poetry (via Coleman Barks) in which there is a nice summary:
    Lovers think they are looking for each other,
    but there is only one search: wandering
    This world is wandering that, both inside one
    transparent sky. In here
    there is no dogma and no heresy.

  • has a wonderful illustration of a dancing dervish and a disturbing history of Islamic heresies leading to the present day possibility of Osama Bin Laden declaring himself a kind of reunifying Messiah for Islam.
    Additionally, if bin Laden did win widespread acceptance as Madhi, it would likely be intepreted as a major hallmark of the apocalypse by many Muslims.

    Since al Qaeda is already made up of guys willing to blow themselves up for al Qaeda even without this complication, well, you can just imagine the mayhem that would ensue. Take one part September 11, and one part World War II. Add the collapse of the oil economy, and a dash of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Stir vigorously and heat until boiling...

  • Chris Highland's Nature Temple has an excellent (lucid and accessible) explanation for why heresy is a Good Thing, always has been, and always will be. His Heretic Hall of Infamy contains all of my major heroes and heroines (as well as both Mohammed and Rumi). Here is his summing up of his view:
    Jesus would never be welcomed in a church (Mohammed in a mosque; Moses in a synagogue; Buddha in a temple). Some say that their place or community would definitely welcome the one who launched their ship. I say, I doubt it very much. Show me how. Show me how any institution could or would accept one who spoke the honest- to-god truth and questioned the comfortable structures and formulas of our day. Show me how that could be.

    You see, that's the main point really. The heretics begin something that quickly rolls into a huge thing no one can ignore. Over time this "thing" becomes solid and established, labeled and "owned." Members only. Our way, only. And one day a few begin to question and more begin to see: The heretics have been orthodoxed right out of the "holy places." Jesus would be killed again in Jerusalem (and Mexico City, Rome and Lynchburg). Mohammed would be run out of Mecca (and Jakarta). Moses would be kicked out of Egypt (Tel Aviv and New York). Buddha would be laughed out of Japan (and San Francisco). It's the way it's always been. And it's the reason we need more heretics.

Neither Wikipedia nor even mention the heresy allegations so I doubt there is much information available on how Rumi answered them. I suspect he defended himself by showing the essential orthodoxy of his own views and the essential heresy of Mohammad's.


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